Take it from a managing editor (me): Nobody HAS to publish your book. So you can take your diva attitude and stuff it…and take your manuscript elsewhere, while you’re at it. I CANNOT STAND when authors are unnecessarily rude and crude to editors, agents and publishers who are trying to work with them. We are NOT your whipping boys/girls, so don’t let the door hit you in the a** on the way out! Again, so glad the majority of authors are polite and professional. THANK you!
Let’s see: Standard formatting and necessary editing will “destroy the creative essence of my manuscript”? Bullshit. You’d better hope your novel is released in a format and manner your readers will understand and find easy to read. Otherwise, they will promptly trash your book or throw it violently against the damned wall. Quit being ridiculous.
Arrogant author: “I know your submission guidelines are a certain way, but I refuse to abide by your rules. Therefore, here is my manuscript in a locked PDF format, and you will just have to accept it as I’ve sent it to you.” // My thoughts, “No, we don’t have to accept it as you’ve submitted it. If you cannot follow the submission guidelines and format your manuscript correctly, then you will receive a big fat REJECTION. How about that?” *stabs desk with sharp object in frustration* Wow…the nerve of some people. Thank goodness the AWESOME authors outweigh the pompous JACKASSES out there! Here’s a bit of advice: I’m not YOUR bitch, mmmkay?
Ever wonder what’s going on inside other people’s heads? I sure do. Writers, especially. Now, I’m a writer. I’m also an editor. I know what each side of that desk looks like, and it’s helped me become a better writer and avoid the many pitfalls I’ve seen while wearing my editor hat.
There are times when I ask myself, “Is this writer looking for a way to get their work rejected ON PURPOSE? They must be, because otherwise why would they do something so stupid and…and…inexplicable?” After pounding my head on the desk for 20 minutes, minimum, I straighten my glasses, take a huge gulp of coffee and compose myself. How do I break it to them professionally, yet gently? It’s difficult at times. Trust me, it is.
If I made a list of all the idiotic things writers do that make them flirt with — or outright coax — rejection, I could be here for days, weeks or years. Let’s take a handful at a time, shall we? There will be plenty to cover for the foreseeable future. Trust me on that!
Here are some things you should NOT do if you plan to get published at any time in the near future:
*Don’t submit handwritten manuscripts. Certainly not on colored or perfumed paper. It screams, “Amateur!”
* Don’t ignore spelling or grammar. Learn it. If it’ll be a while before you get a rudimentary grasp of either, then HIRE an editor to polish your work!
* Don’t use weird fonts or formats in your manuscript. You might think Viner Hand is an interesting font to use, but it makes this editor all stabby!
* Don’t ignore the basics of manuscript format. Scour the internet for information, buy a book on the subject or ask a seasoned writer how to prepare your manuscript.
* Don’t tell me you’ll be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Maybe you will, but chances are you won’t. Besides, if that’s the only reason why you’re writing (to get rich and famous), you’d be better off playing the lottery.
* Don’t think because I’m friendly, I’m your best buddy. I may like you and be friendly and personable to you, but business is business. How I feel about you personally has no bearing on whether your manuscript is worthy of publication. No, you can’t have my home phone number or address. Don’t ask.
These are only a handful of things you shouldn’t do when you’re hoping to get your work published, and there are many more. If you want to save your editor’s sanity and make a good impression, DON’T do any of the things I’ve mentioned. Editors are overworked and underpaid. Please make our lives easier by submitting professional work. Creativity doesn’t give you license to be LAZY in your presentation to a potential publisher/editor/agent.
Till next time, I hope to avoid pulling out more clumps of hair in frustration. I’m already finding gray strands of hair on top of my head, and this does NOT make me happy. Please don’t add more to the bunch, I’m begging you!
Now…back to writing! Make it good, make it entertaining, make it PROFESSIONAL!
Unnecessary quotation marks.
The list goes on and on, but one thing these items have in common is that these errors cause writers anguish and, what’s more, prevent your work (and mine) from getting accepted, sold and published. It’s time to pull our heads out of our collective derrières and get into gear. It’s time to toss out the lame excuses and bone up on things that keep us from writing more, selling more, publishing more. If we aren’t doing any of the latter, then it’s OUR fault and no one else’s!
While you’re here, you’ll need to check your excuses and whining at the door. Forget bitching about the so-called luck of other writers. It’s not luck that got them their first book contract—it was good timing and know-how. Stop soothing your ego with comforting little lies you know aren’t true. Drop the straw man arguments. Eradicate Ad Hominem attacks. Pull yourself up by your boot straps and realize it’s YOU, not someone else, who is responsible for your writing career (or lack thereof).
As the Writer’s Dominatrix, I’m here to whip words—and writers—into shape. Including myself, I might add! I’ve been a bad girl on many an occasion, and I expect to fall off the wagon countless times now—and in the future! Believe me, babies, I’m harder on myself than all of you. Now that’s saying something. Who better to wield the crop of punishment than one who has suffered at the hand of it herself? I’ve been a naughty scribe, and I know YOU have been, too! The question is: what do we do about these transgressions? *arches eyebrow and taps foot*
I won’t ask you to do anything I won’t do myself. What I’m asking is that you push yourself, just as I will push myself, into becoming a better writer. How do we do that? By cutting through all the rubbish and consciously working to improve our scribe-selves with blood, sweat, tears (of joy or sorrow) and much gnashing of teeth. And, if you’re like me, a white chocolate mocha on the side.
Ask yourself this question: are you the best writer you can be at this moment? Are you really? If you’re already doing a good job, wouldn’t you prefer to do a better job? There’s always room for improvement. There are NO perfect writers, period. Your mission is to be the BEST writer YOU can be. Your competition is yourself, and nobody else.
Here’s the way things work around here: I’ll post blogs about issues that hamstring writers and keep them from writing and producing their best. You’ll read those posts, and either you’ll like them or you won’t. Sometimes you’ll agree with me, and sometimes you won’t. Some of you may never agree with my take on things, and that’s fine. I’m still going to post either way. You can’t please everyone, and that’s not why I started this blog in the first place. If I can push, impress, cajole or influence any blog visitor into becoming a better writer, then my goal is complete. If I can make one person pause and reflect—or perhaps have a “Eureka!” moment—then I’ve done my job.
On occasion, I’ll use the velvet glove approach. Other times, I’ll have to get out the sledgehammer to make my point. I much prefer the velvet glove approach (as well as willing submission) but, as we all know, subtlety is lost on many people. On this blog, the end justifies the means. The end is for YOU (and me) to improve and shine as writers. The means . . . well, it depends on how unruly and stubborn the audience might be.
Some days you’ll get the unapologetic Larry Winget or Dr. Phil take-no-prisoners approach. Other days I’ll dole out the Oprah Winfrey approach. You just never know! Don’t take my Oprah-like days as signs of weakness, however. I have Venus in Scorpio and won’t hesitate to sting if provoked. In the end, I’m looking to do some motivational butt-kicking—and that includes my own cheeks, along with yours! By the way, did you notice the unintended pun in that last sentence? *cackles*
Another thing: don’t be an uptight priss-pot*. If occasional curse words offend you, then this might not be the place for you. Because there are occasions where I DO shat a figurative brick when I spy a misplaced apostrophe. This blog isn’t for wimps, so excuse yourself now. I want readers who have backbones of steel, not linguine.
I’m an outspoken, passionate woman. You can expect outspoken, unapologetic posts on many topics from me. Some of them will make you wince. Some of them will piss you off. Some of them will make sense to you. Others won’t. But I will speak my truth, and sometimes that truth isn’t pretty. This blog isn’t a democracy. You may disagree with anything I say, but I always get the final word—right or wrong. I have the right to express myself, and you have the right to counter with your own expression. Sometimes you’ll convince me; sometimes you won’t.
I can’t promise your visit here won’t hurt on occasion. Especially if you see yourself in one of my diatribes about writing-related errata. One week I’ll deliver a post on how improperly used homonyms make me go from zero to LIVID in .01 seconds; the next you’ll hear me rant about selfish, non-writing beings who scheme and plot to steal every moment of your writing time by posing as well-meaning neighbors, friends or family members. “Will you babysit for me–just this once?” HELL to the no! I raised my kids. Now I’m raising BOOKS!
Enough of all that rot. Let’s get down to business. E-mail me any subjects you want to address that have to do with writing and/or the writing life. We’ll tackle the raw and sometimes not-so-pretty side of motivation, creativity, productivity, time management, interruptions, non-writer b.s., grammar, syntax, style, voice, format, et al. All the pain-in-the-arse stuff we writers deal with on a daily basis.
Oh yes—one more thing: for those of you who either don’t like my approach or want to one-up me to make yourselves feel better, don’t let the door hit you in the bung on the way out. This is my show here. Not yours. Got it? Good. My blog, my opinions, MY way. I’m a benevolent dictator, as a former professor of mine used to say. Don’t mistake niceties on here for weakness. I DO scratch and claw. If you beg hard enough.
Now, if I haven’t scared you off (and if I have, I’m sorely disappointed in you), then I welcome you, Dear Lovely, to my blog. I look forward to a fruitful and productive time with you. And I promise not to bite–too much.
Until next time, plant your derrière in whatever chaise longue, chair or bean bag you have available and write till it hurts! Remember: no pain, no gain.
Your Writer Dom
The Writer’s Dominatrix is a professional author, editor and writing coach who has had numerous articles and four books published over the past 12 years.
All posts here should be taken with a grain of salt. Any resemblance to humor is strongly encouraged.
For the softer, gentler side of me (my alter ego—after all, I DO have a Gemini moon!) Visit the Elemental Editrix writing/editing/coaching site at: http://editrix.homestead.com
* Yes, I made up that word. I can do that here, you know!